Tuesday, 28 March 2017

KGB - Hello, Comrade!

Written by Torch

Здравствуйте, товарищ! And welcome to the KGB. Since this is your first day, we’ll give you a generous 5 minutes to get settled in before sending you out on a mission.

I’m not an authority on Soviet work habits, but I find it hard to believe that their work days used to start at 4 pm.

The game starts in my new office, which I’m apparently sharing with my new colleague captain Belov. Belov is pretty dull comrade, but at least he provides me with an excuse to talk a bit about the dialogue system, which was sort of neglected in the introduction post. Thanks to commenter Adamant for reminding me.

The dialogue is broken into categories, or trees, if you will. I can say something specific, ask about something, talk about a certain subject or ask for something from the person I’m talking to. Sometimes I can also instruct the person to do something ( no guarantees that they’ll comply, though ). Based on the other person’s response, further dialogue options may open up, sometimes depending on certain conditions, like if I have a specific item in my inventory, have uncovered the necessary information, or if I’ve performed a required action. I think it’s a pretty nice system, that feels somewhat dynamic.

Using Belov as an example, he will sometimes respond with a politically charged viewpoint, and I can choose to agree or disagree with him. Sometimes I’m given a chance to offer my opinion first. For the record, the possible political stances seem to be limited to either “reckless progressive” or “foot-dragging conservative”. If memory serves me, the conversations here may affect the outcome of an evaluation by my superiors at a later stage, but I can’t say for sure if it will be serious, or merely cosmetic.

Also sometimes you can’t win. Let’s try discussing perestroika:

Option 1

Ok, so he likes the old ways. Let’s backtrack and try a different stance

Option 2

But you just said… Oh, forget it.

After talking to Belov for a while, exhausting all conversation options and prank calling him from my desk phone a couple of times ( he is not amused ), I head out into the hallway, where a lone guard here stands… eh… guard. He will answer some of my questions, but does not seem to be allowed to form an opinion on his own. He is also obviously devoid of any sense of humor, as he doesn’t laugh at any of my jokes.

I guess you had to be there

After harassing the guard for a couple of minutes, my major Vovlov calls me into his office. Fun time’s over

Not if it involves turning your frown upside down

Vovlov hands me my first assignment: Pyotr Golitsin, a former KGB agent turned private detective, has been found dead, and I am to investigate to ensure his death is not related to matters of state security. I try getting some more information from the major, but he gets rather impatient and sends me on my way. He informs me that he wants a report by 6 p.m., so I’ve got almost 2 hours of in-game time. As I leave Department P, I can choose whether I want to go to Golitsin’s office, or head home to my uncle Vanya’s place. Not wanting to incur the wrath of Vovlov, I head straight to Golitsin’s.

When I arrive, there’s a policeman guarding the door. He won’t let me pass without seeing some identification. Hmmm… I sense an inventory based puzzle coming up.

I’m his uncle’s nephew on the mother’s side.

Immediately and without hesitation, I head into my inventory, “TAKE” my ID card, head back to the main screen and click the ID card on the guard. YES! He looks at my card and hands it back, with an admiring look in his eyes. Ok, maybe I imagined the admiring bit, but at least he’s more forthcoming now. I can ask him questions about Golitsin, and, like the others, we can discuss several other topics, most of them irrelevant to the case.

I was all over this one

Brimming with confidence after solving the challenging ID card puzzle, I enter the office.

Some PI. He left his trenchcoat

The inside is a sight to behold for a seasoned adventurer. Cupboards, cabinets, dressers, drawers, a desk, a coat. In other words, tons of places to search for sweet inventory fillers. I manage to find: A vodka bottle, a vodka glass, a pack of cigarettes, some matches, a matchbox ( no idea why the matches weren’t IN the matchbox ), 2 US dollars, a surveillance bug ( of western origin ), and a set of batteries inside an old radio. Jackpot! The drawer, however, is locked. I search around for a key, but I can’t find any. After poking around for a bit, I go outside to the guard again and talk to him. I now have a dialogue option to ask for the key to the drawer. I get the key and head back in. Inside the drawer is a newspaper cutting and a tape recorder. The newspaper is an article from an American newspaper about the spread of private business in the USSR, featuring a picture of Golitsin himself. There’s no tape in the recorder, so no joy there. I’m pretty sure I’ll get to use it later, though.

I can’t find anything else in the office, but while I’m messing about, the guard pops in to inform me that Golitsin’s sister has arrived. I tell him to bring her in for questioning. It quickly becomes clear that she doesn’t know about her brother’s demise, so I’m gonna have to tell her...

Would it be in poor taste to say that he’s “chek’ed out”?

I deliver the sad news and ask her some questions. The game continues to let you talk about random stuff with everyone, so I get her opinion on TV, perestrojka, private business and so on. I can choose to bully her for information, but I decide to play it nice. Cause that’s just the kind of guy I am. Nice. I have to say, even though most of the topics don’t lead to anything substantial, I kind of think it adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. It also allows me to do a bit of roleplaying. I can decide if Rukov is a douche or a fairly decent guy. I’m not sure if this will have any impact later in the game, though.

After I exhaust all dialog options, she takes her leave…. but not before handing me a cassette tape her brother sent her! Dun-dun-duuuhh! I bet I know where that goes! Of course, the recorder doesn’t have any batteries, but I’m way ahead of the game here, since I’ve already taken the batteries from the radio. I put them in and play the tape.

I’m making some Enthusiastic Progress myself

A mans’s voice is heard. I’m assuming it’s Golitsin’s. I learn that he was to meet with a man who calls himself “Hollywood” at the “Enthusiastic Progress Club” tomorrow evening. The meeting was arranged by someone named Romeo, and Golitsin would call himself “Buyer 2”. Golitsin was apparently getting himself involved in some pretty secretive stuff. Codenames and everything.

I can’t find anything else to do here now, so I decide to wrap things up and head back to the office. The guard wants the drawer key back, so I give it to him and leave the area. Again I get a choice of going to uncle Vanya’s instead, and since I completed my mission with plenty of time to spare time I take it.

I can’t tell if the thing in his lap is a chess board or a bag of french fries

Uncle Vanya is super excited to see me

When I was your age, I worked 26 hours a day, 8 days a week. Also, get off my lawn

I talk to him about my parents. He tells me that he was in the car with them when they got killed by a car bomb. He obviously survived, but was paralyzed from the waist down by the incident. I also learn that one of my superiors at the KGB, Colonel Galushkin, was also supposed to be in the car with them, but was assigned to a different task mere hours before. Interesting... I think. Galushkin allegedly tracked down the terrorist who planted the bomb and terminated him some time after this.

Uncle Vanya offers his opinions on other topics, like the KGB and president Gorbachev. Most of them negative. After a couple more questions, he retreats to his bedroom and won’t talk to me anymore. The other doors lead to the kitchen, the bathroom and my own bedroom. The kitchen and bathroom doors offer nothing more than a description of Rukov washing his face or grabbing a bite to eat. The bedroom, however, is accessible. Hooray! More closets and drawers. It’s inventory time! Besides closets and drawers, there’s a bed and a bookshelf. I can’t say I know any of the books on the shelf, but some of them do sound strangely familiar…

Ooh, Tractorcomrade!

After searching every nook and cranny, I find some civilian clothes and 60 US dollars. I kind of expected to find more stuff, but I’m not going to complain ( much ). I head back to the office, and as if by magic, it’s exactly 6 pm when I get there. I wonder if that’s just a coincidence, so I restore to an earlier save point and wait a bit longer before I head out. This time it’s 6:19 pm when I get to department P, and Vovlov is now scolding me for being late. So much for that “magic”. I apologize, but that’s not right either, as he thinks my “grovelling” is pathetic. Maybe he’s dispensing tough love. It’s not a game ending scenario, but since I had a fairly recent savegame anyway, I decide to restore back to uncle Vanya’s again, and come in on time.

Comrade Punctuality

Vovlov wants me to report my findings. I tell him about the bug, Golitsin’s sister and the tape. I have a sneaking suspicion that withholding evidence will amount to a whole lot of trouble. He gets the tape from me and listens to it on headphones. He then wants to know if I listened to it myself. Again, I stick to the truth and nothing but the truth. ( To be honest I tried the other options as well, and they mostly all led to me being assigned to administrative duties, which means game over ). He sort of scolds me for listening to the tape without authorization, ( but that’s nothing compared to the verbal abuse I get for NOT listening to the tape ). He then asks me a question about the content of the tape, which I totally nail, of course.

Don’t eat that black snow
What the…....is that…. did he actually say “very well”? That’s the closest thing to a compliment I’ve ever gotten from the good major.

Vovlov is as happy as I’ve ever seen him, and tells me to wait. Shortly after, I’m called in to Colonel Galushkin’s office. In case you don’t recall, he was a friend of my father and should have been with my parents in the car that blew up.

Colonel Galushkin is apparently busy playing hide and seek with comrade lieutenant Shevkova when I come busting in to his office...

Oh, THAT’s where my earring went which I’m already wearing but this was a different earring shut up no YOU’RE stupid!

Nudge nudge, wink wink

Pretending I didn’t see that, I debrief Galushkin, who seems significantly more positive towards me than Vovlov did.

*Blush* I’m sure you say that to all the new agents

I’m clearly not finished with the Golitsin case, as I am to go to Kursk street, where he was meant to meet with some suspected criminals, and investigate further. I’m supposed to locate the apartment of Golitsin’s contact, “Hollywood” and have a look inside it. Again I have a deadline, this time it’s 8 am tomorrow morning.

Right right. Discreet. Like you and lieutenant Shevkova? That kind of discreet?

Since I’ll be undercover, I have to turn in my firearm, uniform and ID card in exchange for an ugly civilian suit and a fake ID. I guess we’re off to Kursk street then. Until next time!


  1. You didn't mention this, but the tape also explains what happened to Golitsin: He was working on this Hollywood/Romeo/Buyer 2 thing for a client codenamed Jealous Husband, whom he had never actually met in person, but communicated with solely through reports left at dropoff points. He mentioned on the tape that he had decided to discover Jealous Husband's identity that night by hiding near the dropoff point and following his client after he picked up the report. "It's worth the risk", he said on the tape. He was then found dead in the river the next morning, so that might be up for debate.

    1. I actually played through all of chapter 1 before starting this post, and "jealous husband" didn't play a part in this chapter ( as far as I know ), so I guess I neglected to include this information, but you're right. Golitsin also mentions that suspects his client could be working for his "ex-masters", ie. the KGB.

    2. It sort of comes in later. Just keep in mind that things you learn in one chapter might not get brought up until a later one.

      HEAVY spoilers, don't read this until you've beaten the game: Wrnybhf Uhfonaq vf Ibiybi, lbh trg n (inthr) uvag gbjneqf guvf vs lbh nfx uvz nobhg Tbyvgfva.

    3. Though it's worth mentioning that Golitsin's suspicion of Jealous Husband working for KGB is the reason why the content of this tape is of interest to the KGB and Department P in the first place, so it's kind of relevant for that reason.

  2. Wow, this game turned into an episode of Archer. I love it.

  3. Kickstarted Ron Gilbert/Gary Winnick game 'Thimbleweed Park' is now available, and for some reason is $4.70 cheaper on GOG than Steam